Monday, March 3, 2014

Do you want to be part of something bigger than yourself?

Left to right:  Mindy Lin, me(Sunshine O'Connor), Bethany Hughes
at the Portland Damsel Drop-In
Last Thursday, Mindy Lin and Bethany Hughes, the founders of Damsel in Defense, came to Portland to present the Damsel Mission for everyone who may not have had the amazing opportunity to hear it right from the source.  We packed Hot Lips Pizza on Hawthorne Blvd, and from that moment on, so many things happened.

First, let's rewind a bit to my wonderfully terrible experience at Leadership Retreat in Boise this January.  I worked soooooooo hard to get there only to get so incredibly sick that I had to fly home early and go straight to the hospital.  From getting a phone call the next day from Bob Hipple, our CEO, to the personal message from Mindy Lin on my Facebook page, I knew I was part of something huge.

I say that all the time.  I am part of something amazing.  Something larger than myself.  Something that creates the same sort of emotion in me that I get when my heart wells with pride over one of my children.  I don't say it all the time because I'm trying to sell you something, I say it all the time because it's undeniably true and I feel it from the very depths of my soul.

Back to the co-founders being in Portland.....

At the time they came, I was feeling a little disconnected from my Damsel family.  Our team meeting the month before had to be cancelled due to a freak snow storm, and so it had been a really long time since I was in the same room with my sisters.  I didn't have the best month as far as business growth, so I was really beating myself up for all of the things I didn't do, and I was in sort of a funk, so to speak.

The first thing that happened was a giant hug from my amazing Director, and cheerful hellos from the girls on my team.  It was like a hand reaching into the mire and dragging me out.

Then, Bethany Hughes told me she was so glad I was there and how terrible it was that I had to go home during Leadership Retreat.  That was the hand dusting me off and setting me back down on the ground.

Next, Mindy ran up to me yelling my name and gave me a bear hug.  She told me how upset she was that I had to leave Leadership early and that she was so excited when she saw my name on the list of people who would be there that night.  That was the hand that strapping me into the jet pack.

After that, we heard some stories from Directors that were both beautiful and heart wrenching.  That was the hand checking to make sure my belt was tight.

Then Johnna Johnson, the Vice President of Field Development for Damsel in Defense spoke about the realities of this business, how we have exploded right out of the gate, and where we're heading.  That was the strike of the match.

Finally, Mindy and Bethany gave their story from the very beginning of Damsel in Defense to what the future holds, including every failure and triumph along the way.  They also talked in depth about the mission of Damsel in Defense, the charity work we're doing, and things the future holds.

That was the fuse of the jet pack being lit.

I will succeed at this business.  Failure is not an option.  There is too much of a larger picture that I am part of.  After sharing tears with Mindy and Bethany, who shared tears with girls who had been sold by their families into slavery, I can't look into their eyes without seeing those girls looking back at me for help. Knowing that the more I do, the more girls are saved, the more victims are advocated for, and the more lives will be lifted out of hell and given a chance to soar is the fuel in the jet pack that will keep me moving forward.

Later that night, my aunt, who is actually my "other" mom, shared with me a horrific story of her kidnapping, brutal beating, and near death experience as her attackers were trying to force her into prostitution.  Had I not gone through the life I have gone through, had I not been reborn as a survivor, had I not found Damsel in Defense, had I not had every experience along the way, I may have never known that about one of the people I love most in the world.

Like I said, and I will continue to say, I am part of something amazing.  I'm saving lives and I'm changing lives.

If you want to join a sisterhood dedicated to a better world, let's talk.  For more information visit or email me at  Let's talk about your future.

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